Year in Review – August 2017

 Former Thirroul ironman Dean Mercer dies of a heart attack on the Gold Coast in August this year.

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Former Thirroul ironman Dean Mercer dies of a heart attack on the Gold Coast in August this year. .

Grim search: Police start digging in bushland at Cataract in a search for the body of schoolgirl Quanne Diec, who went missing in 1998 after leaving her Granville home to catch the train to Strathfield Girls High School.

Icon dies: Soccer broadcasting legend Les Murray dies aged 71. He spent most of his teenage years living in the Illawarra and attended Berkeley High School.

Shock findings: One in 11 female University of Wollongong students surveyed say they had been sexually assaulted in the past two years, according to an Australian Human Rights Commission report. Almost half of all UOW respondents reported being sexually harassed in 2016.

New rail line: Regional advocacy body Illawarra First releases a report calling for an upgraded version of the Maldon-Dombarton rail line. Tagged the South West Illawarra Rail Line, it would carry passengers as well as freight.

More raids: A police drug raid on a Valetta Street, West Wollongong house nets almost 300 cannabis plants. One man is arrested in relation to the raid. A house in Marshall Street in Dapto yields 410 plants and another arrest.

Big win: School teacher Jessica Calvert wins $51,000 on TV show Millionaire Hot Seat.

War of words: Wollongong leaders say the Illawarra is missing out on millions in government funding due to the ever-shifting definition of whether it is regional or metropolitan.

Michael Burton (centre) is developing a sensor that will tell bars and breweries when a keg is almost empty.

Michael Burton (centre) is developing a sensor that will tell bars and breweries when a keg is almost empty.

I’m in: Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery announces he will lead a ticket of three other candidates at September local elections - Dom Figliomeni, Terry Gallagher and Donna Waters. Other Lord Mayoral candidates include Labor’s David Brown and Liberal John Dorahy.

Turned away: A four-month-old boy was twice turned away from Shoalhaven Hospital’s emergency department before being diagnosed with meningitis on the third visit - four days after the first trip to the hospital.

Stranger danger: There are several cases reported to police of children being approached by strangers. One incident saw a male driver pull up alongside a 17-year-old girl on her way to school and tell her to get in his car.

Brutal attack: Albion Park cafe owner Peter Kranitis, 63, is lucky to be alive after being repeatedly bashed over the head with a metal rod during a failed hold-up.

So sorry: The family of Thirroul teacher Melissa Bond, who was killed in a head-on crash on Appin Road in March 2016, receive a handwritten letter of apology from truck driver Christopher Childs - the man responsible for the accident.

Last straw: Lower East cafe owners opt to ditch plastic straws for eat-in customers and replace them with multi-use stainless steel straws.

Assault claim: Illawarra Sports High teacher Despina Haise appears in court accused of assaulting a student by grabbing her around the throat. Haise pleads not guilty to the charge.

Albion Park restaurant owner Peter Kranitis shows the healed scars he got after a thug viciously beat him over the head with a metal pole during a failed hold-up in August. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Albion Park restaurant owner Peter Kranitis shows the healed scars he got after a thug viciously beat him over the head with a metal pole during a failed hold-up in August. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Beer brain: A world-first invention from Wollongong aims to tell bars when a keg is almost empty - meaning they will never run out of beer.

Speed camera: School zone speeders accounted for more than 90 per cent of the total revenue brought in by the speed camera outside The Illawarra Grammar School in the 2016-17 financial year.

No way: South Coast cult leader and convicted sex offender William Kamm fails to shrug off a supervision order. Kamm, dubbed Little Pebble, will remain banned from the Nowra area and subject to electronic monitoring until at least 2021.

Bypass brouhaha: Kiama MP Gareth Ward and Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba enter into a stoush after he claims council is delaying property acquisition for the Albion Park Rail Bypass, so as to “blackmail” the government into paying for another road project.

Wollongong City Council knocks back a controversial application for a KFC restaurant in Bulli.

Wollongong City Council knocks back a controversial application for a KFC restaurant in Bulli.

Safety review: Wollongong City Council will cover the open drain where Unanderra boy Ryan Teasdale drowned after being swept away in floodwaters in March.

Wild winds: The city is lashed by winds reaching speeds of 100km/h, which fan the flames that burn down three houses in Coalcliff, pull roofs off houses, down power lines and collapse garages on top of cars.

Steel drama: BlueScope CEO Paul O’Malley says the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is investigating potential cartel conduct involving “a small number of employees” in the period from late 2013 to mid 2014.

Pole attack: Belinda Elizabeth Kemp, of Barrack Heights, is found guilty of repeatedly hitting her love rival with a metal pole after learning the woman has fallen for her husband. Kemp is sentenced to 400 hours of community service.

Timber!: Most of the spotted gums planted in Crown Street Mall are cut down after being damaged in strong winds. Council says it is reviewing which trees are best suited for the mall.

Farewell Fred: Fred Addision, longtime owner of a well-known petrol station and garage in Kiama, passes away aged 88.

Fred Addison, the longtime owner of an iconic petrol station in Kiama, passes away in August. Picture: Orlando Chiodo

Fred Addison, the longtime owner of an iconic petrol station in Kiama, passes away in August. Picture: Orlando Chiodo

No chook: Wollongong City Council knocks back a controversial plan to build a KFC restaurant at Bulli.

In mourning: Champion ironman and former Thirroul surf lifesaver Dean Mercer dies on the Gold Coast after suffering a cardiac arrest while behind the wheel of his car. He was aged 47.

Taxi “rape”: An Illawarra woman claims in court that Wollongong taxi driver Zejadin Ganiji forced her to perform oral sex while driving her home. Ganiji pleads not guilty but in September he will be found guilty.

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